Board of Trustees approves new statue, nature education building for Auburn’s campus

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Two new additions to the Auburn University campus—one honoring a baseball great and the other focused on the great outdoors—were approved by the Board of Trustees on Friday.

The board unanimously agreed to honor Frank Thomas, the university’s most decorated baseball player and the only Auburn athlete in the National Baseball Hall of Fame, with a statue to be placed at Samford Stadium-Hitchcock Field at Plainsman Park.

Thomas’ 521 home runs and 1,704 RBIs while turning in a .301 career batting average and .419 on-base percentage solidified his nickname “The Big Hurt” and led to his selection to five All-Star Games, two American League Most Valuable Player awards and four Silver Slugger awards.

Following a celebrated career with the Chicago White Sox, the club retired his No. 35 jersey in 2010.

By honoring Thomas, Auburn Athletics seeks to celebrate Auburn baseball’s past while encouraging future generations of student-athletes.

The board also acted on the College of Forestry and Wildlife Sciences’ request to create a new nature education building at the Kreher Preserve and Nature Center. A new space will allow center staff to provide nature and environmental programs, regardless of weather, specifically to preschool-aged children.

The building, with construction starting this summer, will feature cross laminated timber as its primary structural material, a product important to the State of Alabama timber industry. Leers Weinzapfel Associates of Boston, Massachusetts, was selected as project architect.

In related action, the board agreed to rename the College of Forestry and Wildlife Sciences to better reflect the breadth of academic, research, outreach and extension programs currently supported by the college.

As the College of Forestry, Wildlife and Environment, it would continue to offer programs that integrate traditional disciplines with the growing field of environmental sciences, theories and problem solving. The proposed renaming reflects the college’s strategic emphasis on environmental management, science, and policy and enhances the college’s visibility and extramural funding.

In other matters, the board:

  • Authorized a new doctorate in the College of Nursing. The new degree will support the increasing demand for professional nurses and nurse educators. The new degree program will address the health care needs across the State of Alabama and beyond by providing the advanced education and clinical experiences necessary to develop more strategic patient and population-centered care.

  • Agreed to utilize Goodwyn Mills Cawood of Auburn as project architect for constructing a new practice gym in Neville Arena.

  • Authorized a project to resurface the asphalt entrance road to the Solon Dixon Forestry Education Center, as well as some parking areas within the center. This repaving work will complete needed maintenance and repairs to the center’s road system. Work is scheduled to be completed this summer. The estimated cost of $950,000 will be financed by the College of Forestry, Wildlife and Environment.

  • Agreed to replace chilled water production equipment in the College of Veterinary Medicine Chilled Water Plant. Plans call for replacing four smaller chillers with two larger, more energy efficient chillers. To limit disruption to campus, temporary chillers will be rented and utilized. The work schedule is expected to be July to January. The $7.9 million estimated cost will be financed by existing bonds and energy investment funds.

  • Authorized the acquisition of a portion of Indian Pines Golf Course in Auburn. The land purchase is necessary to complete a safety area expansion at the Auburn University Regional Airport, per a request from the Federal Aviation Administration. Auburn would purchase approximately 11 acres from the cities of Opelika and Auburn. FAA and state and local partners have agreed to provide funding for the purchase of the property and to partially defray golf course repair expenses.

  • Initiated phase III of the Parkerson Mill Greenway construction project and authorized the commencement of the engineer selection process. Phase III will provide an extension of the campus greenway system with 0.4 miles of new shared-use path running from the current terminus at Lem Morrison Drive to an existing trail near the pond adjacent to the Edward Via College of Osteopathic Medicine. The project will add new transportation and recreation amenities to the campus and allow for future greenway extensions as the southern portion of campus continues to develop and expand. The project will be financed with an Alabama Department of Transportation grant and Facilities Management funds.

  • Set a 3 percent tuition increase for fall 2022 for Auburn and Auburn University at Montgomery. The decision means an in-state undergraduate student will pay approximately $350 more per year and a non-resident undergraduate student about $974. At AUM, an in-state undergraduate student will pay about $300 more per year and a resident graduate around $234 per year. This is the first tuition increase at both campuses since fall 2020.

  • Set a 2 percent increase for housing rates at Auburn for the 2022-23 academic year

  • Recognized its two newest trustees. Caroline Aderholt represents District 7 and Zeke Smith fills an at-large seat on the board.

  • Recognized Dr. Jay Gogue who will be ending his second term as Auburn’s president next month. Several board members took the opportunity to show their appreciation for Gogue and his wife, Susie. Gogue initially served his alma mater from 2007-17 as its 18th president. He returned in 2019, becoming Auburn’s 20th president in 2020. Gogue will officially retire in May, as Chris Roberts, dean of Auburn’s Samuel Ginn College of Engineering, will assume the responsibilities of the presidency.

For AUM, the board awarded a posthumous degree, a Bachelor of Interdisciplinary Studies, to AUM student Christine Gootee, who died in January.

Auburn University is a nationally ranked land grant institution recognized for its commitment to world-class scholarship, interdisciplinary research with an elite, top-tier Carnegie R1 classification, life-changing outreach with Carnegie’s Community Engagement designation and an undergraduate education experience second to none. Auburn is home to more than 30,000 students, and its faculty and research partners collaborate to develop and deliver meaningful scholarship, science and technology-based advancements that meet pressing regional, national and global needs. Auburn’s commitment to active student engagement, professional success and public/private partnership drives a growing reputation for outreach and extension that delivers broad economic, health and societal impact.